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Swiss Army Knives


Was the Swiss Army Knife Really Created for the Swiss Army?



You could be forgiven for questioning the validity of the ubiquitous name given to the multipurpose knife, the Swiss Army knife. After all, Marks & Spencer sold over 11 metric tons of Lochmuir salmon one year, and Tesco has sold hundreds of thousands of chickens from Willow farm. Problem is, both Lochmuir and Willow Farm are as real as Trumpton or Greendale the home of postman Pat. With Switzerland’s predilection for neutrality, you could be forgiven for wondering if it even had an army, let alone an army with pocket knives.

The Swiss Army Knife has been around for over 140 years.

The good news is that the Swiss Army Knife did originate from the Swiss army and was first manufactured in 1880s for the Swiss army as a simple multi-tool knife that could help soldiers dismantle their rifles. The Soldier Knife included a blade, a reamer, a tin opener, and a screwdriver, and had a solid oak cover. The first order was awarded to Karl Elsener and his mother who lived in Ibach and who represented a cooperative of Swiss cutlery makers.

The unmistakable identity of a Swiss Army Knife

The rest, as they say, is history, but one that is ever changing.  Once Victorinox had taken over the production of the Swiss Army Knife, its easy recognition came not just from its multi-utensil concept, but the red body with the distinctive white cross, in deference of the Swiss national flag.

The 1939 version looked like this, very much different from today's but just as effective.

For many of us who can think back to our school days, at least those school days before iPads and smartphones had been invented, there was always one thing that would cultivate envy and jealousy, and that was anyone who had a Swiss Army Knife. Truth be told, that element of jealousy extends into adulthood, and many of us have, at one point or another, fulfilled that lifelong dream to own one of these almost ‘mystical’ objects. That ‘aura’ is still maintained as, if you go into any half-decent and self-respecting hardware store today, the Swiss Army Knife has its very own distinctive display case and space.

There is an expression that says: “you can’t improve on perfection”, yet in one way or another, that is exactly what Victorinox have done from the earliest days of the Swiss Army Knife. From a simple multi-tool concept, they have expanded the number of blades and tools, and also produced ‘knives’ appropriate for a wide range of uses, such as the one created especially for fishermen. One has to wonder though, at what point did it become essential to include a corkscrew? We guess that when going on a week-long trek through uncharted terrain, there can be little as scary or life-threatening than to discover that while you remembered to bring the wine, with you, nobody thought to bring a corkscrew.

The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife

Of course, there is then the situation where you transition from the sublime to the ridiculous. We feel that between five and ten blades and tools is a good range, maybe 15 at a push, but after that, you have to wonder if you aren’t just carrying round a toolbox with you. While we sell a wide range of Swiss Army Knives and multi-purpose knives, we feel that the 14-blade Handyman Knife was stretching the limit to its maximum.  At a smidgen over £50.00 we also felt that was a great price point, respecting the fact that everyone has a budget.

Well, we thought everyone had a budget, but that rather flew out the window along with our 15-blade limit for sense and sensibility. It seems that in America, they still like to have the biggest and the best, whether it is the 1,749lb cheeseburger for sale at Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar at a modest US$8,000 or the Wenger Giant, the Swiss Army Knife that has 85 separate implements, measuring an impractical 9” in width.

You won’t just need wide pockets for this knife, you’ll need very deep ones too as it will set you back U$£1,400 Curiously, that knife doesn’t come with anything remotely useful for eating a giant burger though…


So, perhaps back down to reality with an update, as even the most familiar trademarks and styles have to move with the times. Victorinox now have a range of colours and finishes other than red for the Swiss army Knife. Beyond that, there is now a Swiss Army Knife for the computer whizz, which comes with its own USB key.

We’re not quite sure why the logical choice of additional tools includes a file, a pair of scissors, a single blade and, yes, you guessed it, a laser. Answers on a postcard for that one please….

Victorinox don’t have a monopoly on the multi-tool knife either, and here at Cyclaireshop we also stock the popular Swiza Swiss Army Knives and also an extensive range of the ultra-practical Leatherman multi-tool knives.

Here are Cyclaire Knives and Tools we sell the full range of Vicrorinox tools - Click here to see them

To find out more, just give us a call or send us an email and we’ll get straight back to you.


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